An optimistic and detailed blueprint for a sustainable 21st-century world.

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THE GREAT PIVOT

CREATING MEANINGFUL WORK TO BUILD A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

A comprehensive vision of a more sustainable working world.

Corporate-sustainability consultant Burt’s well-designed, smoothly readable nonfiction debut centers on what she asserts are systematic, fundamental changes that human societies must make in the near future in order to survive. The author looks at traditional ways of generating energy, transporting people and materials, growing and distributing food, and relating to nature, and she determines, as many others have, that present patterns aren’t sustainable, even as they appear to be “locked on autopilot.” Burt’s book lays out meticulously comprehensive proposals for changing them, aimed primarily at two kinds of readers: policymakers in a position to “facilitate meaningful job creation” and everyday people who are willing to do the meaningful work of instituting planned changes and keeping them going. “Do we want future generations to look back at our time as the Great Unraveling,” she asks, “or should we instead choose a more sustainable path so that our grandchildren see this era as the Great Turning?” The related “Great Pivot,” as the author lays it out, puts this philosophy into practice. If the pressing, urgent goal is to reduce carbon emissions and waste in all sectors of daily life, the creation of large numbers of new jobs in many areas will be necessary; Burt enthusiastically elaborates on these areas, including building and enhancing bicycle-related infrastructure, designing walkable communities, deconstructing energy-inefficient buildings for salvage, massively increasing recycling, restoring healthy forests, and creating more small, organic farms. The author’s narrative is buoyantly can-do and forward-thinking, with a refreshing real-world pragmatism that shows how previous, small-scale sustainability projects have been put into practice. Much of what the author proposes will be done against the backdrop of what she calls the “new American Dream,” which will no longer be characterized by relentlessly increasing consumption (“stability, not upward mobility”); those who’ve been left behind by the traditional American dream, she asserts, would find newly created, more meaningful jobs in the transition from a “take-make-waste linear economy to a circular economy.” Overall, this book will likely inspire a great many readers hoping for a better future.

An optimistic and detailed blueprint for a sustainable 21st-century world.

Pub Date: March 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-935994-34-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Bivens & Jensen Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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